- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) - Farming often brings to mind chickens in pens, cows in pastures and pigs in the mud, but for the Lipari family, farming is a pasture full of deer.

“My dad and I always dreamed about raising deer,” Cole Lipari, 15, said.

Cole said the land adjacent to his home had always been woods thick with trees and bramble. When Cole was younger he had two goats that lived in his yard and he decided to clear some of the woods so the goats had a better place to live. He and his father built a low wooden fence and added a couple of metal tents in the small space, which was well-shaded by the trees they left standing.

From there he and his father, Mark, purchased three fallow deer and added them to the small space. It wasn’t long until the idea to raise white tail deer turned into a reality.

The Lipari family started its deer farm with 14 whitetail deer: nine does and five bucks. The deer were purchased in November and in the past year have produced seven fawns, six of which are still alive.

“I didn’t think it would be this laboring,” Cole said.

Cole does most of the work taking care of the deer with some help from family members when he is at school or football practice. He is in charge of feeding them, checking their water, moving them to different pastures and checking the fences for any holes where the deer might escape. He also gives the deer their shots when they are born and bi-annually.

“I do everything,” Cole said.

Tara Lipari, Cole’s mother, has become mother to two of the smaller fawns on the Lipari farm.

“They were 4 pounds when they were born,” she said.

Two fawns, Sticks and Cajun, were two of the triplets birthed seven weeks ago, she said. Deer usually have two fawns at a time, which is why the babies were so small. The third fawn was sick most of its life and recently died.

Tara Lipari calls the fawns her “babies” and said her favorite thing about raising deer has been watching them grow.

“I always tell people my greatest accomplishment will be when I see my babies growing some horns,” Tara Lipari said.

Raising deer has proven to be a much more difficult task than she anticipated, Lipari said. The hardest thing has been making it through the heat of the summer because deer have no way of cooling their body temperatures.

The Liparis are prepared to handle other simply treated illnesses as well, keeping a cabinet full of medicine.

“We’re becoming our own vets,” Cole said.

The education and care for the animals has been through the support of the professional, Tara Lipari said.

“All Creatures Veterinary Hospital has helped us out tremendously,” she said. “From the doctors to the friendly staff at All Creatures, a huge thank you to them all. Dr. Chad and Dr. Rebecca have been wonderful at assisting us with any and every question we have had.”

Tara Lipari said raising the deer has been a family commitment. When one person isn’t able to feed the deer or give them fresh water, another member of the family steps up to help.

“We’re all in this together,” Lipari said.

A year later, the Liparis are still learning about how to take care of whitetail deer. The bucks and the does each have their own pasture, there is a mist system to keep bugs away and an automatic water system to keep fresh, cool water available.

The doe pasture has more than just deer, however. Along the back fence is a cluster of trees with a couple of metal tents under them and a low wooden fence. The reminder of where it all started.

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